Speaking to the Public Bills Committee on Thursday to give evidence in favour of equal marriage, Alice Arnold, former BBC broadcaster said she thought homophobia was still rife, but that it would be reduced if same-sex couples could marry.

The former BBC Radio 4 presenter said that allowing same-sex couples to marry would bring a decline in homophobia.

She pointed to Twitter, and said that homophobic tweets about herself and her civil partner, Clare Balding, were “filthy”, but that equal marriage could bring us closer to “true equality” which would bring down the amount of homophobia.

She said: “I encourage any of you to search our names on Twitter on a Saturday night”, she said, describing it as “filthy”, she continued: “I don’t let Claire see it”.

“Anything that brings true equality will affect homophobia”, she said.

When asked about anomalies in pensions, and the contentious issue of consummation of same-sex marriages by Labour MP, Kate Green, Ms Arnold said: “We don’t need to go into the sexual ins and outs”.

She continued: ” I don’t see that a gay couple would come and say ‘we need to talk about consommation’ to a court… I just don’t see it as a problem.”

She was asked by Conservative MP David Burrowes, who is opposed to equal marriage, why gay couples would want to “conform to heterosexual models,” Ms Arnold said that was not the case, and that that interpretation was up to individual couples.

“Whatever marriage is will be up to the couple that are married… I don’t think most gay people would feel molded by having to conform,

“A patriarchal overtone exists, but doesn’t make us conform to anything other than what we already are,” she continued.

When asked “What would the ability to get married add to your life?”, Ms Arnold said that she wanted to feel like “everybody else”, and to be able to say she was married.

She said: “Massively important” “When someone says to me, ‘are you married?’, it’s a very common question we’re all asked, I always say ‘no, but… I’m in a civil partnership’, I would love to be able to not have to say ‘no, but’, I’d really love to just say ‘yes’.

“I would love not to have to say that, I would love to just be like everybody else, and say ‘yes’. That’s the difference it would make.”

When asked “what sort of wedding” she would have, as she is not religious,  Ms Arnold said: “Probably just a big party.”

Ms Arnold previously spoke of her plans to marry her civil partner, TV presenter and journalist Clare Balding, in the wake of the House of Commons vote on equal marriage.

She also said that she didn’t like that she had “suddenly” realised that gay people were not thought of or treated equally, and that she would be a more active spokesperson for equal marriage having left the BBC. 

Ms Arnold left the BBC in December 2012 and said she was now free to “sound off” about her support for equal marriage.